Seattle police officers are warning heroin users about dangerous purity levels after four people overdosed on Saturday. Three of the overdoses were fatal.
The Seattle Police Department believes the victims may have bought heroin from the same person. All overdoses occurred within hours of each other and in a similar geographic area.
The SPD and King County health officials are urging users to take precautions.
If you’re going to use heroin, don’t use alone, they say.
“You'll die if you're alone. But if you have someone with you who's not using, who can monitor your health and reverse an overdose, call 911 immediately, hopefully you'll be able to survive,” said Jeff Duchin, health officer for Public Health Seattle and King County.
Duchin also encourages users and their friends to carry Narcan (also known as Naloxone), an overdose reversal drug.
Shilo Murphy runs the People’s Harm Reduction Alliance, a local organization that promotes safe drug use.
He's lost many friends to overdoses and he agrees with Duchin's recommendations. Murphy also said those who use together should not get high at the same time.
But ultimately, Murphy said we need solutions. And he’s got one in mind.
“If you do not want your community to overdose then we should have safer consumption spaces in every neighborhood, in every community.”
Safe consumption sites are clean, safe places where users can get high under medical supervision.
A King County task force recommended Seattle set up such sites to help prevent overdose deaths.
The proposal has faced some criticism, and the city of Seattle has yet to say whether or not they’ll adopt that recommendation.
The task force also said access to addiction treatment is crucial in fighting the current opioid epidemic.
Over the past two years, someone has died from a fatal overdose in King County every two and a half days, according to Jeff Duchin from Public Health Seattle and King County.
The SPD urges people to call 911 if they witness an overdose. The Good Samaritan Law protects anyone who reports an overdose from drug possession charges.